Front. Mol. Neurosci., 14 February 2012 |

Activating transcription factor 3 and the nervous system

  • 1 Medical Education Centre, Newham University Hospital, London, UK
  • 2 Perinatal Brain Repair Group, Institute for Women’s Health, University College London, London, UK
  • 3 Research Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London, London, UK

Activating transcription factor 3 (ATF3) belongs to the ATF/cyclic AMP responsive element binding family of transcription factors and is often described as an adaptive response gene whose activity is usually regulated by stressful stimuli. Although expressed in a number of splice variants and generally recognized as a transcriptional repressor, ATF3 has the ability to interact with a number of other transcription factors including c-Jun to form complexes which not only repress, but can also activate various genes. ATF3 expression is modulated mainly at the transcriptional level and has markedly different effects in different types of cell. The levels of ATF3 mRNA and protein are normally very low in neurons and glia but their expression is rapidly upregulated in response to injury. ATF3 expression in neurons is closely linked to their survival and the regeneration of their axons following axotomy, and that in peripheral nerves correlates with the generation of a Schwann cell phenotype that is conducive to axonal regeneration. ATF3 is also induced by Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands but acts as a negative regulator of TLR signaling, suppressing the innate immune response which is involved in immuno-surveillance and can enhance or reduce the survival of injured neurons and promote the regeneration of their axons.

Keywords: ATF3, c-Jun

Citation: Hunt D, Raivich G and Anderson PN (2012) Activating transcription factor 3 and the nervous system. Front. Mol. Neurosci. 5:7. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2012.00007

Received: 06 December 2011; Accepted: 20 January 2012;
Published online: 14 February 2012.

Edited by:

Simone Di Giovanni, University of Tuebingen, Germany

Reviewed by:

Hiroshi Kiyama, Nagoya University, Japan
Simone Di Giovanni, University of Tuebingen, Germany

Copyright: © 2012 Hunt, Raivich and Anderson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Patrick Norval Anderson, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Anatomy Building, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK. e-mail: